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WELDING AND CUTTING SAFETY

Welding, soldering, and brazing are commonly known as hot work. Hot work
presents increased potential for fire and explosion hazards, especially when
performed in confined and enclosed spaces. You must be aware of these hazards
to work safely and avoid accidents and injuries.

COMMON HAZARDS

Air Contaminants- Hot work produces air contaminants. The most common
contaminants include metal fumes and gases. Hazardous fumes may be produced
from heating toxic metals found in common alloys. The fume particles created are
small and can deposit deep in the lungs causing adverse health effects that can
range from systemic poisoning to respiratory tract irritations. Setting up an
appropriate work environment and using the appropriate goggles, face shields,
and/or respirators will protect you from contaminants.

Radiation- Both visible ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiation are produced
when welding and cutting. These types of radiation can cause skin damage
(sunburn and cancer) and eye damage (welders flash, cataracts, and burns). You
may not be aware of these injuries until after they occur since UV and IR radiation
is NOT detectable by the senses. Appropriate clothing and filter lenses will protect
you from radiation damage.

Burns and Fires- Hot work can be a fire hazard. Burns, fires, or explosions can
result from flames, arcs, molten metals, heated surfaces, or metal splatters.
Sparks from welding operations have been known to travel as far as 35 feet
horizontally from the welding sight. Be aware of fire hazards when welding and
remember that you can cause fires or be burned when working. Unplug and place
soldering irons or guns in holders or stands when not in use. Always assume that
a soldering iron or gun is hot. Give equipment time to cool down before touching
tongs and tips.

Electrical Shocks- Every year welders die from electric shock. Electric shocks
can occur when proper precautions are not taken. Equipment must meet
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) code and be checked and serviced regularly.
Servicing and installation must only be undertaken by a qualified licensed
electrician.

GENERAL RULES

The proper use of welding and cutting equipment will minimize injuries.
Always follow the manufacturers recommendations for setting up and
operating equipment, selection of tip size, and gas cylinder operating
pressures.
Always use a regulator to reduce gas cylinder pressure to the operating
pressures recommended by the equipment manufacturer. All piping and
equipment must meet the standards of the Compressed Gas Association.
Always ensure that all connections are leak tight. Each time connections
are loosened and retightened, each connection should be checked with a
soap and water solution (oil free soap). Do not check with flame.
Before connecting a regulator to a gas cylinder, open the cylinder valve for
a moment. Called cracking the cylinder valve, this will blow out any foreign
material that may have lodged in the valve during transit. Do not stand in
front of the valve when cracking.
Never perform welding, cutting, brazing, or heating operations in a poorly
ventilated area. Avoid breathing fumes from these operations at all times;
particularly when zinc, cadmium, or lead coated metals are involved.
Never use defective, worn, or leaky equipment. Repair it or take it out of
service.
Never use acetylene in excess of 15 psi pressure. Higher pressures with
acetylene are dangerous. If the cylinder is not fitted with a hand wheel valve
control, any special wrench required must be placed on the cylinder while
the cylinder is in service. On manifolds, one wrench for each manifold will
suffice.
Always have an appropriate fire extinguisher in good operating condition
readily available when operating welding or cutting equipment.
Never perform welding or cutting operations near combustible materials
(gasoline cans, paints, paper, rags, etc.).
Always protect you, other workers, welding hoses, gas cylinders, and
flammable materials from the hot slag and sparks resulting from the welding
and cutting operations.
The welder and spectators must always wear goggles to protect the eyes
from harmful light rays, sparks, and hot molten metal during welding,
cutting, and heating operations. Eye protection must comply with the
established ANSI Standards.
Always wear clean, oil free clothing during welding and cutting operations.
Protect the hands with leather welding gloves to avoid burns from radiation
and hot molten slag. Low cut shoes and trousers with cuffs or open pockets
should not be worn.
Never use a match or cigarette lighter to light a cutting or welding torch.
Always use a spark igniter. Fingers are easily burned by the igniting gas
when a match or cigarette lighter is used.
Ensure that the material being welded or cut is secure and will not move or
fall on anyone.
Never use a welding, cutting, or heating torch on a container that has held a
flammable liquid. Explosive vapors can accumulate and linger in closed
containers for extended periods of time.
Never use a regulator for gasses other than those for which it was designed
for by the manufacturer, since the diaphragm and seat materials may not be
compatible with other gasses.
Never tamper with the safety devices on cylinders, fuse plugs, safety discs,
etc., and do not permit torch flames or sparks to strike the cylinder.
All cylinders, particularly acetylene, should be restrained securely in an
upright position to prevent accidents. A non-vertical position for an
acetylene cylinder in use would allow the discharge of acetone through the
regulator and into the cutting torch, clogging the mixer passages and
creating a fire hazard. It would reduce the efficiency of the flame and
contaminate the weld area. It can also cause voids in the porous material
inside the cylinder, which can lead to acetylene explosions.
Keep all burning or flammable substances away from the oxygen or fuel
gas storage area (at least 20 feet) and post No Smoking signs.
Fire is the biggest hazard in welding. The area should be cleared for a
radius of 35 feet. Fire shields should be used. Upon completion of a
welding, heating, or cutting operation, immediately inspect the surrounding
areas for smoldering embers. Allow at least 30 minutes to elapse before
leaving the area and conduct another thorough inspection just before
leaving. Also alert other personnel of fire possibilities.
Always have the properly fitted wrench to fasten a regulator to a cylinder.
Never tighten the regulator by hand.
Always leave the fuel gas cylinder valve wrench in place when the cylinder
valve is open so that it can be closed quickly in an emergency. Do not open
acetylene valves more than one-quarter (1/4) turn.
After attaching a regulator to a gas cylinder, be sure the regulator adjusting
screw is fully released (backed off in a counter clockwise direction so that it
swivels freely) before the cylinder valve is opened. Never stand in front of a
regulator when you are opening a cylinder valve.
Always open the cylinder valve slowly so that gas pressure will build up
slowly in the regulator (particularly in the oxygen cylinder). Quick opening of
the cylinder valve causes a buildup of heat due to recompression of the
gas. When combined with combustible materials, ignition and explosion
may result.
If a leak develops in a fuel gas cylinder that cannot be stopped by closing
the valve, immediately place the cylinder outside of the building away from
possible fire or ignition sources. Place it in a location that is free from wind
currents that might carry the gas to an ignition source.
When a gas cylinder is ready for return to the supplier, be certain the
cylinder valve is closed to prevent internal contamination and the shipping
cap is in place to protect the cylinder valve. Identify empty cylinders.
Never use oxygen or other gasses as a substitute for compressed air in
operation of air-operated tools, blowing off parts, or for ventilation purposes.
Do not attempt to do your own repair on welding equipment. Equipment that
is improperly repaired can cause leaks and other hazardous conditions.
Repairs must be performed by qualified repair personnel.
Never repair welding hose with tape. Use of tape and many hose splicers
can reduce the pressure to the torch and can cause hazardous conditions.
Welding hose must meet the specifications of the Compressed Gas
Association.
Use the shortest length of hose possible. Longer hoses require higher gas
pressures and can be hard to handle.
Never use oil or grease on any part of welding or cutting equipment and
never let it come into contact with oil or grease. This includes gas cylinders,
work bench, regulators, torches, tips, threads on bottles, and clothes that
are worn, such as jackets, gloves, and aprons. Oxygen and oil or grease
can cause explosions and fire.
Never use a hammer on the valve cover caps to loosen them. Use a piece
of wood to soften the impact and prevent sparks and damage to the cap.
Do not hammer on any cylinder. Do not tamper with the relief valves. If you
have trouble, contact the supplier for assistance.
When moving gas cylinders, always roll them on their bottom edges or in a
cart designed for their movement. Sliding, dragging, or rolling causes
excessive wear and may weaken their walls by metal erosion. Slings and
electromagnets are not authorized when transporting cylinders.
Never use cylinders as rollers to move material. Do not let them bump into
each other or let them fall.
Fuel gas and liquefied fuels must be stored and shipped valve end up.
Do not hammer on any cylinder. Do not tamper with the relief valves. If you
have trouble, contact the supplier for assistance.
Suitable eye protection shall be worn for all welding and cutting operations.
See chart below
Cylinders shall be secured. Valves shall be closed when unattended and
caps shall be on the cylinders when the regulators are not on the cylinders.
Cylinders shall be upright when they are transported in powered vehicles.
All fuel gases shall be used through a regulator on cylinder or manifold.
Compressed gas cylinders shall be upright except for short periods for
transportation.
Oxygen regulators shall be marked Use No Oil. Regulators and fittings
shall meet the specifications of the Compressed Gas Association.
Caps shall be on cylinders during transportation.
Proper personal protective equipment shall be worn by all welders and
assisting personnel.
All welding personnel should be advised of the hazards from heating zinc,
lead, cadmium, and any other substances that could cause health problems
from the welding activity.

(The Following Apply to Arc Welding):


Chains, wire ropes, hoists, and elevators shall not be used to carry welding
current.
Wear appropriate PPE
Take precautions against electrical shock
Conduits with electrical conductors in them shall not be used to complete a
welding circuit.
Welding leads shall be inspected regularly for damage to insulation.
Stingers shall be removed when not in use
Never hold leads under the arm or drape them around the body
Only proper splicing will be authorized. There should be no splices in
stinger lead within 10 feet of the stinger and the leads should never be
wrapped around the body.
Typical Welding PPE

Protective shade chart for welding operations: